Tap fees changing in a city or district near you?


From KUNC (Maeve Conran):

The complexities of a water bill basically have two components: The consumptive charge – which is the water you use – and the service charge. Typically the more water you use, the more you’ll pay. What’s less clear to customers is the service charge. That’s often a fixed monthly fee that pays for things like pipes and treatment plants.

What consumers don’t see is the tap fee. That’s something that is paid long before they move into their home. A tap fee is a charge that is assessed to new developments, a new home or business in a community and it is a way for that new development to buy into that water system. Essentially it’s a charge to hook up to the water system.

In 2014, Aurora significantly restructured their tap fees, said Marshall Brown, Director of Aurora Water.

“The intent of that was to tie the cost directly to the volume of water,” he said.

Brown points out that under the old pricing structure a small house on a small lot might pay a tap fee of $24,500.

“Or you could have a 2 acre parcel with a 10 bedroom, 6 bath structure and that would also have paid a $24,500 tap fee,” Brown said.

Now large water users will pay larger tap fees and smaller users will pay smaller ones. Brown said the idea in restructuring the tap fees was not to guide specific development but rather to have developers think about what they’re designing and its impact on water…

Chuck Howe, Professor Emeritus of Economics at CU Boulder said growing cities can also use tap fees to encourage smarter and denser development.

“If you have scattered development, go down south of Denver and see the little subdivisions here and there, that makes it very expensive to bring water service to those areas,” Howe said. “You have to lay a lot of supply pipes and sewer pipes long distances to serve only a few customers.”

Amelia Nuding, a water and energy analyst with Western Resource Advocates is looking at how some communities are rethinking their tap fees with a view to encouraging more water wise development. Along with Aurora, Nuding is looking at five communities around the country – that study is due out later in summer 2015.

She said some cities are already considering the location of new development in the upfront costs they charge to developers.

“There are several tap fees that will charge more if these developments have taken place outside the traditional city limits or outside the traditional water service area, just because it costs more to build that infrastructure further out,” Nuding said.

16 simple ways to reduce plastic waste — Mother Nature Network


Click here to read the article (The Mother Nature Network, Laura Moss) and grok the 16 ways to reduce plastic waste. Here’s an excerpt:

Plastic is found in virtually everything these days. Your food and hygiene products are packaged in it. Your car, phone and computer are made from it. And you might even chew on it daily in the form of gum. While most plastics are touted as recyclable, the reality is that they’re “downcycled.” A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton — it can be made into a lower-quality item like plastic lumber, which can’t be recycled.

How big is our plastic problem? Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a swirling vortex of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil.

16 Ways: Just say no to straws; Use reusable produce bags; Give up gum; Buy boxes, not bottles; Buy from bulk bins; Reuse glass containers; Use reusable bottles and cups; Bring your own container; Use matches; Skip the frozen foods section; Don’t use plasticware; Return reusable containers; Use cloth diapers; Don’t buy juice; Clean green; Pack a lunch the right way.

More water pollution coverage here

#COWaterPlan Essentials — Western Resource Advocates

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Denver Water’s August 2015 ‘Water News’ is hot off the presses

Marston water level during construction
Marston water level during construction

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Major project in southwest Denver wraps up

Denver Water is wrapping up a major project to improve water quality and dam safety at Marston Forebay, the reservoir that feeds into Marston Treatment Plant.

The $12.5 million project, which began in mid-2014, included building a new outlet works on the north side of the forebay. The new outlet is a tower structure designed to draw water from various levels of the reservoir instead of just one, which will allow operators to send the highest-quality water to the treatment plant.

The project also included:

  • Constructing a platform for the outlet, connected to the dam by a new access bridge.
  • Excavating an underwater channel for moving water to the base of the outlet.
  • Removing outlet towers and aging pipes that passed through the north dam.
  • Reconstructing the north dam’s embankment.
  • Installing upgraded electrical systems and measurement devices.
  • Improving the site by installing new pipes, connections and a drain line.
  • To access the site, crews had to lower Marston’s level by 25 feet, which also allowed us to make improvements to the south dam before we began refilling the reservoir in June 2015. Learn more about the project.

    More Denver Water coverage here.

    Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin #COriver

    Upper Colorado River Basin July 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal
    Upper Colorado River Basin July 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal

    Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

    What does El Niño mean for the #ColoradoRiver Basin? — John Fleck #COriver

    Mid-June 2015 plume of ENSO predications
    Mid-June 2015 plume of ENSO predications

    From InkStain (John Fleck):

    What does the growing El Niño oceanic pattern mean for the Colorado River Basin? Best to just shrug, and say the statistics are too small to say much of anything conclusive. In the nine El Niño years since the 1960s, three have been wet, three have been in the middle, and three have been dry…

    When you think about the geography, this makes sense. El Niño’s strongest effect is the southern tier of states, but most of the Colorado River’s flow comes from mountains to the north, which is in the no-man’s land between wet and dry during El Niño years.

    The Durango Utilities Commission is going to readdress fluoride dosing in the treatment process

    The water treatment process
    The water treatment process

    From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

    Jim Forleo, a Durango chiropractor who has been leading local efforts to eliminate fluoride use in water, said he hopes to encourage city officials to take a fresh look, given new guidance and studies.

    “They haven’t done the research; they haven’t looked,” Forleo said of governments that support fluoride in drinking water. “They’re just kind of following the same route from others that have preceded them.”

    The city’s Utilities Commission will consider Forleo’s proposal at a meeting as early as the end of the month. It will be the first time the commission tackles the issue in about a decade, according to members of the group. What’s discussed could lead to City Council action.

    “What is the right amount of fluoride? Nobody’s coming out and telling you exactly what that is,” said Steve Salka, utilities director for the city. “We need to be smart about what we do. Have we given the public too much? We’re doing the right thing by making sure that our Utilities Commission is going to readdress this.”

    The city lowered its fluoride dosing from 0.9 milligrams per liter to 0.7 milligrams per liter May 6. Officials responded to federal health regulators, who in April changed the national fluoride standard for the first time in more than 50 years. The standard dropped from a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter, to a set concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter. Officials say 0.7 milligrams per liter is like a drop of fluoride in a 55-gallon drum.

    Colorado health officials also updated their recommendations on the subject to reflect a maximum concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter, acknowledging that people receive fluoride from a number of sources these days, including toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride is also naturally occurring in some water systems, including in La Plata County.